In February, I.B. Tauris released “Women and Violence in India: Gender, Oppression, and the Politics of Neoliberalism,” by Tamsin Bradley (University of Portsmouth). The publisher’s description follows:
India’s endemic gender-based violence has received increased international scrutiny and provoked waves of domestic protest and activism. In recent years, related studies on India and South Asia have proliferated but their analyses often fail to identify why violence flourishes. Unwilling to simply accept patriarchy as the answer, Tamsin Bradley presents new research examining how different groups in India conceptualise violence against women, revealing beliefs around religion, caste and gender that render aggression socially acceptable. She also analyses the role that neoliberalism, and its corollary consumerism, play in reducing women to commodity objects for barter or exchange. Unpacking varied conservative, liberal and neoliberal ideologies active in India today, Bradley argues that they can converge unexpectedly to normalise violence against women. Due to these complex and overlapping factors, rates of violence against women in India have actually increased despite decades of feminist campaigning.
This book will be crucial to those studying Indian gender politics and violence, but also presents new data and methodologies which have practical implications for researchers and policymakers worldwide.
In September, Palgrave Macmillan will release “Islamophobia and Securitization: Religion, Ethnicity and the Female Voice,” by Tania Saeed (Lahore University of Management Sciences). The publisher’s description follows:
This book explores everyday realities of young Muslim women in Britain, who are portrayed as antithetical to the British way of life in media and political discourse. The book captures how geo-political events, and national tragedies continue to implicate individuals and communities at the domestic and local level, communities that have no connection to such tragedies and events, other than being associated with a religio-ethnic identity. The author shows how Muslim women are caught within the spectrum of the vulnerable-fanatic, always perceived to be ‘at risk’ of being ‘radicalized’. Focusing on educated Muslim females, the book explores experiences of Islamophobia and securitization inside and outside educational institutions, and highlights individual and group acts of resistance through dialogue, with Muslim women challenging the metanarrative of insecurity and suspicion that plagues their everyday existence in Britain. Islamophobia and Securitization will be of interest to scholars and students researching Muslims in the West, in particular sociologists, anthropologists, and political scientists. It will also appeal to analysts and academics researching security and terrorism, race and racialization, as well as gender, immigration, and diaspora.
In August, the University of Pennsylvania Press will release “Clare of Assisi and the Thirteenth-Century Church
Religious Women, Rules, and Resistance,” by Catherine M. Mooney (Boston College). The publisher’s description follows:
In a work based on a meticulous analysis of sources, many of them previously unexplored, Catherine M. Mooney upends the received account of Clare of Assisi’s founding of the Order of San Damiano, or Poor Clares. Mooney offers instead a stark counternarrative: Clare, her sisters of San Damiano, and their allies struggled against a papal program bent on regimenting, enriching, and enclosing religious women in the thirteenth century, a program that proved largely successful.
Mooney demonstrates that Clare (1194-1253) established a single community that was soon cajoled, perhaps even coerced, into joining an order previously founded by the papacy. Artfully renaming it after Clare’s San Damiano with Clare as its putative mother, Pope Gregory IX enhanced his order’s cachet by associating it also with Read more
In January, Routledge will release “Women’s Rights and Religious Law: Domestic and International Perspectives” edited by Fareda Banda (SOAS, UK) and Lisa Fishbayn Joffe (Hadassah-Brandeis Institute of Brandeis University). The publisher’s description follows:
The three Abrahamic faiths have dominated religious conversations for millennia but the relations between state and religion are in a constant state of flux. This relationship may be configured in a number of ways. Religious norms may be enforced by the state as part of a regime of personal law or, conversely, religious norms may be formally relegated to the private sphere but can be brought into the legal realm through the private acts of individuals. Enhanced recognition of religious tribunals or religious doctrines by civil courts may create a hybrid of these two models.
One of the major issues in the reconciliation of changing civic ideals with religious tenets is gender equality, and this is an ongoing challenge in both domestic and international affairs. Examining this conflict within the context of a range of issues including marriage and divorce, violence against women and children, and women’s political participation, this collection brings together a discussion of the Abrahamic religions to examine the role of religion in the struggle for women’s equality around the world. The book encompasses both theory and practical examples of how law can be used to negotiate between claims for gender equality and the right to religion. It engages with international and regional human rights norms and also national considerations within countries.
In July, Ohio University Press will release “The Gender of Piety: Family, Faith, and Colonial Rule in Matabeleland, Zimbabwe” by Wendy Urban-Mead (Bard College). The publisher’s description follows:
The Gender of Piety is an intimate history of the Brethren in Christ Church in Zimbabwe, or BICC, as related through six individual life histories that extend from the early colonial years through the first decade after independence. Taken together, these six lives show how men and women of the BICC experienced and sequenced their piety in different ways. Women usually remained tied to the church throughout their lives, while men often had a more strained relationship with it. Church doctrine was not always flexible enough to accommodate expected masculine gender roles, particularly male membership in political and economic institutions or participation in important male communal practices.
The study is based on more than fifteen years of extensive oral history research supported by archival work in Zimbabwe, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The oral accounts make it clear, official versions to the contrary, that the church was led by spiritually powerful women and that maleness and mission-church notions of piety were often incompatible.
The life-history approach illustrates how the tension of gender roles both within and without the church manifested itself in sometimes unexpected ways: for example, how a single family could produce both a legendary woman pastor credited with mediating multiple miracles and a man — her son — who joined the armed wing of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union nationalist political party and fought in Zimbabwe’s liberation war in the 1970s. Investigating the lives of men and women in equal measure, The Gender of Piety uses a gendered interpretive lens to analyze the complex relationship between the church and broader social change in this region of southern Africa.
In March, NYU Press released “Women in New Religions” by Laura Vance (Warren Wilson College). The publisher’s description follows:
Women in New Religions offers an engaging look at women’s evolving place in the birth and development of new religious movements. It focuses on four disparate new religions—Mormonism, Seventh-day Adventism, The Family International, and Wicca—to illuminate their implications for gender socialization, religious leadership and participation, sexuality, and family ideals.
Religious worldviews and gender roles interact with one another in complicated ways. This is especially true within new religions, which frequently set roles for women in ways that help the movements to define their boundaries in relation to the wider society. As new religious movements emerge, they often position themselves in opposition to dominant society and concomitantly assert alternative roles for women. But these religions are not monolithic: rather than defining gender in rigid and repressive terms, new religions sometimes offer possibilities to women that are not otherwise available. Vance traces expectations for women as the religions emerge, and transformation of possibilities and responsibilities for women as they mature.
Weaving theory with examination of each movement’s origins, history, and beliefs and practices, this text contextualizes and situates ideals for women in new religions. The book offers an accessible analysis of the complex factors that influence gender ideology and its evolution in new religious movements, including the movements’ origins, charismatic leadership and routinization, theology and doctrine, and socio-historical contexts. It shows how religions shape definitions of women’s place in a way that is informed by response to social context, group boundaries, and identity.
Next month, Harvard will publish The Princess Nun: Bunchi, Buddhist Reform, and Gender in Early Edo Japan, by Gina Cogan (Boston University). The publisher’s description follows.
The Princess Nun tells the story of Bunchi (1619–1697), daughter of Emperor Go-Mizunoo and founder of Enshōji. Bunchi advocated strict adherence to monastic precepts while devoting herself to the posthumous welfare of her family. As the first full-length biographical study of a premodern Japanese nun, this book incorporates issues of gender and social status into its discussion of Bunchi’s ascetic practice and religious reforms to rewrite the history of Buddhist reform and Tokugawa religion.
Gina Cogan’s approach moves beyond the dichotomy of oppression and liberation that dogs the study of non-Western and premodern women to show how Bunchi’s aristocratic status enabled her to carry out reforms despite her gender, while simultaneously acknowledging how that same status contributed to their conservative nature. Cogan’s analysis of how Bunchi used her prestigious position to further her goals places the book in conversation with other works on powerful religious women, like Hildegard of Bingen and Teresa of Avila. Through its illumination of the relationship between the court and the shogunate and its analysis of the practice of courtly Buddhism from a female perspective, this study brings historical depth and fresh theoretical insight into the role of gender and class in early Edo Buddhism.